As someone who is in the position to observe what is happening in the world of dentistry, business coach, Chris Barrow has his finger on the pulse. His lecture was no exception and the knowledge I picked up has swiftly been noted and at my disposal to share with my practices. So, what was Chris’ take on how to get your marketing mix right?
That the emerging landscape of dentistry is very much, where appropriate, becoming a ‘digital’ one, from online courses to boost your knowledge to treatment planning software, it’s covering most aspects of running a dental practice and marketing is not exempt from this movement.
So, what does this mean for your marketing strategy? It means that elements of your marketing process, ie finding someone who doesn’t know you exist through to converting them into a long-term patient, are becoming more digitalised and running 24/7.
The good news is that a few of these elements can run on automated systems – operating whilst you are asleep, on holiday or busy in surgery – while others can be delegated out, which should be welcome news to an overworked practice owner!
The key is to understand which marketing elements are digitalised and which still need the in-house human touch, as it is important to remember that both need to coexist to work effectively.
The digitalised elements
This covers your dental practice website, Facebook page, Google Adwords, pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimisation – all of which are never off. The main advice that Chris offers here is to hire an agency to complete the ‘tasks’ – you are never going to have the time to learn how to do digital marketing in-house and a good agency will make sure that you are digitalising the attraction to your website by leveraging all of your digital aspects.
They should also analyse your data to continually give you feedback – highlighting what needs to be done to get more prospective patients through your door. Now, this isn’t to say that you couldn’t have a social media champion in your practice just to double check which tasks your team can manage comfortably and which are left to the specialists.
Digital word of mouth
Follow this simple and small request. As a happy patient reaches the end of their treatment, seek permission to have a selfie with you and your nurse, which you can then share on your Facebook page as well as ask them to share on their own.
This small action will result in a massive reach out to a wider digital audience whilst you continue to concentrate on your day and next patient.
It’s all about giving away useful information in the form of a guide or white paper on the treatments and services you offer – all for the simple exchange of an email address and permission to keep that person posted.
The information you give away can be embedded digitally almost anywhere, and as soon as the exchange takes place, a short-term automated sequence of nurturing emails triggers a sharing of further information, testimonials and FAQs on that particular interest matter (as well as a call to action to ring for further information or the opportunity for them to unsubscribe!).
If the last email in the sequence is reached, then permission is requested to trigger your long-term automated nurture sequence – which is effectively a monthly newsletter about your team, patients, special events and offers. Overall, it is worth noting that this method is not a get-rich-quick option, but, once set-up, a slower burner that comes with a proven 400% increase on conversion rates for new business leads.
Your sales pipeline
When a patient has been in for a consultation and been presented with a treatment plan, make sure you are organised and follow-up. Use sales management software, Chris suggests Pipedrive to prompt you to take the appropriate action to move your patients along your treatment plan sales sequence and not lose any along the way.
The human touch
You still need someone who is prepared to get out into your local community and network in a B2B and B2C environment and makes themselves known at the Chamber of Commerce, business link, local radio and press – someone who will get out there and tell your story to your community.
Your practice has to be capable of generating original content, stories about your patients and the way in which you have changed their lives. Remember that advertising is product placement, ie we do implants. Marketing is story telling, ie ‘Jane was able to go to her son’s wedding and smile confidently because of the implants we were able to deliver for her.’ All marketing exists at an emotional level and you need someone to collect your stories and broadcast them.
It goes without saying that the delivery needs to be five star and focused on patients as people. Treatment coordination, ethical selling and closing the deal on treatment plans all need the human touch, so get your team comfortable with it all.
All of this might seem like a lot to take in, some of it you might already be tackling. But if you strive to keep working at it and you have your dental team carrying out great human aspects of your marketing and digital systems working in the background to support them, you can massively increase your marketing return.
Practice Plan is a specialist provider of practice-branded patient membership plans and an increasingly significant source of wider business support services for dentistry. So, whether you’re planning a conversion from the NHS, introducing a dental plan into an established practice or looking to change from another plan provider, Practice Plan can help you take your practice where you want it to go. Over the years, it has helped thousands of dentists introduce membership plans and develop business strategies. Access to regional support managers, customer service advisers and expert marketers as well as dental business consultants and speakers, means a practice will get practical and strategic advice to help them achieve their unique goals.